Saturday, August 22, 2009

Zizek on Israel: A Lesson in Idiotic Pop Psychology

I love when Zizek talks about Kieslowski. However, I'm not so impressed with his new comments about the situation in Israel (okay, I'm repulsed). Shahar Ozeri, over at Perverse Egalitarianism, says of Zizek's newest comment on the situation: "Bluntly, it’s a a pathetic projection and at best idiotic pop psychology." Ozeri is right--unfortunately Zizek has succumbed to the trendy strategy of "Nazifying" Israel. Come on, give us something new, Zizek.


shahar ozeri said...

For what it's worth The Guardian chops the Palestinian-Frei thing up to a typo: the Guardian website referring to the original op-ed: "This article was amended on 20 August 2009. The online version originally referred to “Palestinian-frei”, while the print version had been edited to say “Palestinian-free”. This editing change should have been applied to the online version."

I'm not really sure how much this changes anything since the "concentration camp" (though Zizek qualifies it by saying almost like a concentration camp) analogy is pretty much still at work in the article which doesn't make the whole thing much less odious, really. In fact, as I think about it more I'm not so sure there is all that much difference in using the German or English. It's hard to know what his intention was, of course.

Anonymous said...

I need to ask... I can understand why using an analogy of the concentration camp would be offensive, and the Israel/Nazi analogy that lurks somewhere between the lines is certainly trite, to say the least.

Do you object to the "content" of his article, though? It struck me as having a rather urgent message. Israel has engaged, and is still engaging, in ethnic cleansing in a way which cynically undermines all hope of peace (not to mention being unjust). Zizek's point about legality is also perceptive and important - for the supreme court to declare a smattering of settlements as illegal creates an illusion of legitimacy regarding the rest.

Monica said...

Shahar--Thanks for the clarification. It's hard to believe that the "frei" was a typo, given (as you suggest) Zizek's other references to concentration camps and ethnic cleansing. No, we don't what his intention was,'s Zizek. I can't imagine that such an implicit comparison was merely coincidence.


Anonymous--I do, as a matter of fact, object to some of the "content" of Zizek's article. The concentration camp analogies do more than "lurk somewhere between the lines"; they are so implicitly explicit (haha) that they hijack any of the potentially useful parts of the content. It's not that Zizek does not raise important points and/or questions about the legality of the situation(s); he does. But this more interesting point is subsumed into his larger framework of ethnic cleansing, which is--if we are all honest--synonymous with genocide. Zizek is implicitly accusing Israel of genocide, and all but explicitly comparing them to Nazis (And what about his subtle Wagner reference? Am I reading into things? And if I am, isn't that what a theorist like Zizek would want us to do?).

My biggest problem with this? I've heard it before, and I expected more from Zizek. Tell me something I haven't, rather than simply fall back on culturally hip comparisons between one tragedy and another. Can a scholar like Zizek really not find original language with which to address the situation? Does he really need to resort to dropping the big Holocaust-bomb?

Casey said...


Would culturally un-hip comparisons help? Are the encroaching settlements like when the United States caused the Mexican-American war by annexing Texas in 1845?

I didn't read the Zizek, because I find him unbearable in general.

Nevertheless, I wonder about Israel as a national/military power, as I've suggested before. The desperate move of comparing Israel's actions to Nazi actions does probably mean you can ignore the article as a whole. But the fact that "you've heard it before" doesn't mean you don't have to answer the charge, does it?

So if I ask for a defense of Israel's encroaching settlements without making a wild comparison, well -- can a brotha get an answer 'round here?